Hi Lisa - FinalDraft is quickly becoming industry standard for everything including plays. I have version 7 and it does have three different versions of stage play formatting. To tell you the truth, I don't love it for plays and tend to format myself but I do really like it for tv scripts where formatting is very counterintuitive.
EVERYONE has Word and most don't have Final Draft. I have friends using Final Draft and their opinion(s) vary. I don't like the way it inserts the character's name after every time you include blocking instructions and also dislike the business of carrying a character's lines over to the next page (I like to have all of a character's line on the same page, even if I have to create a page break half-way down the page - rare.)
Personally, I find that I can use "Styles" and the "Clipboard" in MSWord to create anything Final Draft can, itworks just as well, and anyone can read it.
Also, quite often, theatres announce they will accept e-mailed scripts in Word or PDF only, so if you're going to buy Final Draft, you should also consider buying Adobe Acrobat (the generator program - not the reader) so you can send scripts out in PDF.
If you need instruction on formatting scripts in Word, let me know.
Jack, can I take you up on your offer of help on ScriptSmartGold.
It's working fine for me but I want to make some modifications to the style. For example the characters names are set to regular all caps but I want them to be bold and not all caps.
I go into styles and formatting, right click STAGE NAME and click Modify. I can then change the format to how I want it and it works perfectly in the document I am editing. When I am finished and exit as well as saving the document I have been working on I am asked if I want to save the changes to scriptsmartgold.dot and I say Yes, thinking that the next time I load the template the styles will be set to how I want them. Alas no, they go back to how they were originally.
Am I doing something silly or is it impossible to change the styles in the template?
Several years ago I learned, in Word, to simply highlight the character, his/her lines and blocking in one block, then format that group of paragraphs using "Paragraph" to "Keep lines together" and "Keep with next." The entire block jumps to the next page without inserting a page break or additional lines... that way, if you do any rewriting, there isn't an unnecessary page break or extra lines where you don't like them. "Styles" lets you choose a paragraph indentation for blocking or the character's name - nice thing is that a backspace takes you back to "Justified left."
You can put as many as twelve items on the Word "Clipboard" and place it wherever on the workspace is comfortable, so that all you have to do is click once and your character's name appears with the next line cued for their spoken words.
Truth is that Word is truly easy to format. When I'm ready to send it to someone, I create a PDF for transmittal unless I want them to be able to edit what I'm sending.
Here's hoping everyone has the same success with their chosen program as I have with Word.
The thing that I have NOT been able to figure out is numbering. For my full length play I want to number it according to the Sam French guidelines, with act#-scene#-page# on the upper right hand corner. I can figure out how to put it in the corner, but for the life of me can't figure out how to have the page numbers continue consecutively without being effected by the section or chapter breaks! I even did the MS Word header and footer tutorial to no avail. Is there a trick? I feel I must be missing something!
They have free online scriptwriting software and include a GREAT Stage Play format. You can even print out directly from their site using PDF and get your friends to collaborate with you. Check it out if you don't have Final Draft... or if you want to work with a buddy.
I didn't think you had to buy Acrobat seperately. The reader is available online and I use Final Draft and haven't ever had a problem with converting the final draft file into a pdf by just saving it as a pdf file instead of a final draft file. I might be wrong. I'm not the most computer savvy.
I have used them all, and my favorite (though it may not be common or accepted by the industry) is Celtx. It's the easiest to use and I couldn't think of how to improve it. It's that good. The best part for me is that it's free to download. http://celtx.com/
I'm living in Buenos Aires, and I know many playwrights here who use it. I wonder if there's anybody on this forum using it.
Is there been anything that's come out since the last reply about the playwrighting program thing??
I'm getting old, just turned 60 and my brain's gone back 13billion yrs to primordial soup, it seems. I started at 50-what was I thinking? I LOVE it!
Any body got something cheap or free that you still stand by?
I have fallen in love with the Celtex program! The one thing that does drive me nuts with it is when I want to have a parenthetical direction with-in the dialog. Haven't found a way to customize that particular formatting. But I do love its versatility, and over all ease of use. One of the best free programs out there!
Also, just in case you need to know...the problem comes when you want to submit a play to someone who doesn't use Celtx. Then you go to print it, and use the option to save it as a PDF. Problem is, it saves the formatting, but doesn't keep the dialogue with the character.
Although I've been a director, Artistic Director and actor for many years I just started working on a play that's been bouncing around for a bit. So I'm pretty new to the actual writing end of things. I saw your post and would love a bit of the advice you offered regarding using styles and clipboard in Word to format the script. Thanks Gary
Playwrights can spend many dollars on how to write plays.
I just format my own with playwriting format on on Microsoft Word for my plays.
Always has worked fine.
Sample: NAMES CENTERED. DIALOGUE FLUSH LEFT.
How are things, Harry?
Going great, Pal.
Dialogue that follows always seems to work.
No software program will ever help you write your play.
Software programs may help you in a Screenplay format, as there are pagination structures that equal TiME in a movie script. And Final Draft and other make millions in the promise of success in those areas of dramatic writing.
But good old Aristotelian structure with heart and soul still seems to work in plays. No matter the length of the play.
So, pick up The Poetics by Aristotle and study the Greek plays and Shakespeare.
John Logan, in an interview I once read, said he was not getting what he wanted from Northwestern University, one of the premier Theatre Schools in America. He basically then, concurrently, went and taught himself by reading Shakespeare and other great plays. (From an article I read.)
Indeed through my directing and acting in many Shakespearean and many Greek plays I've found that simply working with them deeply influences the quality of my work/awareness. Not only the language/poetry of everything I approach but also the important relationship character & circumstance play as primary drivers of dialogue.